Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Building for the Future


    On Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers signed former Twins outfielder Torii Hunter to a two-year, $26 million contract. On the surface, the Tigers paid a ton for his charisma, leadership and veteran status. Although he had a terrific 2012 season, including the first .300+ batting average season of his career, there is a lot of risk in signing an outfielder who will be 39 years old when the contract ends.

    That said, my first thought when I heard the news was that it cemented in my mind the need for the Twins to build for 2014 or even 2015. The comment was met with mixed emotions and plenty of comments on both sides.
    Was the signing of Torii Hunter that big for the Tigers? No. The Tigers were head-and-shoulders the favorite in the AL Central even before the acquisition of the former Gold Glover. Adding Hunter got me thinking about the Tigers roster again. I think it is safe to say that Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are really good hitters. Austin Jackson and Hunter will comprise two-thirds of the outfield with Andy Dirks, Brennan Boesch, and young Avisail Garcia. Alex Avila, Jhonny Peralta, and Danny Worth will round out a very strong lineup. Then there is the starting rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello is a pretty good starting point. Will they bring back Anibal Sanchez? Their bullpen is stacked even when they let closer Jose Valverde leave via free agency. Will they hand a starting job to Drew Smyly or the closer role to Bruce Rondon?

    Sure, the wild card could come from the AL Central, but considering the A’s, Angels and Rangers in the AL West, and the five strong teams in the AL East, it seems unlikely. (Yes, about as unlikely as the A’s and O’s being playoff teams in 2012.)

    So, what does “build for 2015” mean to me? To some, it could be a fire sale like the Marlins did. It doesn’t have to though. Here are some of the things it means for me:

    FREE AGENCY

    I completely agree with Terry Ryan that building via free agency is not the best way. That isn’t to say that free agency isn’t important. Of course it is. However, if I’m looking to being a contender in 2015, there is little need to spend a ton of money on older, expensive pitchers like Ryan Dempster.
    It can mean using the free agent market to acquire two types of players. First, the Twins can sign decent players who can fill a short-term role. If they do it well, they can be traded at the July deadline for more talent. Terry Ryan had success with this strategy in his previous time as GM. He traded signed Dave Hollins to be his primary 3B in 1996, and in August, he traded him to Seattle for David Ortiz. Roberto Kelly was turned into Joe Mays. JC Romero became Alexi Casilla.

    I also think that the Twins can still build for 2015 by making a big splash in free agency this season. (Not that I think they will, just that they could.) They could go after a big name, top of the rotation starter and give him four or five years. The name? Anibal Sanchez. Why? He is looking for a long-term deal, and he is just 28 years old. Most free agents are 31-32 years old. The best of those get three year deals. As he is just 28, maybe a six year deal would be OK. The risk is certainly higher, but it would be a way of telling the fan base that there is a plan, and Anibal Sanchez is going to help us get there. Of course, Twins fans also have to acknowledge that it takes two sides to make a deal. The Twins can go after Sanchez, but Sanchez would have to be willing to sign with a team that has lost 95 or more games each of the past two seasons. How much would the Twins have to overpay to acquire an impact pitcher like Sanchez?

    TRADES


    Beyond the trades mentioned above which generally will bring back low-level prospects, if the Twins are trying to build for 2015, they will likely need to trade some players. In order to bring back the best return, it is important to trade players at peak value rather than holding on to them for too long.

    The Twins have a few guys that they could consider trading this offseason. It’s hard because they are players that Twins fans know, and they would be traded for players that many fans do not know much about. When the Twins traded Chuck Knoblauch, few Twins fans know much about Eric Milton or Cristian Guzman. When All Star catcher AJ Pierzynski to the Giants, Joe Nathan had one good year as a reliever under his belt, Boof Bonser was a decent prospect, and Francisco Liriano was an injury-prone pitcher in Low A ball.

    Josh Willingham is coming off of the best season of his career. He could bring back a couple of quality players. Seeing that Torii Hunter got $13 million a year for two years, the market for outfielders is clearly a bit crazy. Willingham’s two years and $14 million (Total) has to look very attractive to teams looking for right-handed power.

    The same can be said for Denard Span whose contract, when compared to what teams are likely to shell out for Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino and Angel Pagan, is very team-friendly.

    What has been encouraging is reading rumors about the Twins interest in trading for young pitchers like Trevor Bauer (Diamondbacks), Danny Hultzen (Mariners) and some of the Braves young pitchers like Mike Minor, Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran. The pitchers all have high ceilings and only Minor has anywhere near a full year of big league service time. Those are exactly the types of pitchers the Twins should be feverishly attempting to acquire.

    PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

    This is the most important piece to building a team that can compete for years to come. The Twins did a terrific job of player development from about 1999 through about 2007. It was a system that started with several young players coming up together and then a player or two coming up and contributing each year. It started with the Hunter, Jones, Mientkiewicz, Koskie, Guzman, Pierzynski group that we enjoyed so much. Johan Santana came to the team in 2000. They were joined by Michael Cuddyer in 2002, Justin Morneau in 2003, and Joe Mauer and Jesse Crain debuted in 2004. Jason Kubel debuted in 2004 as well, but his knee injury meant that he missed 2005. Scott Baker came up in 2005, and Francisco Liriano came up late that season. Matt Garza and Pat Neshek came up in 2006.

    The Twins minor league pipeline seemed to have an unending supply of impact players. For whatever reason, that has not been the case in recent years, but there are some players working their way up the Twins system that we can be excited about. Some will be up in 2013, some more in 2014 and guys like Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario could be up in 2015. The entire goal is to develop and find out which players can be counted on for the second half of 2014 and 2015. It isn’t to rush them to the big leagues, but it is to make sure when they come up, they are ready.

    The Twins have to find out what they have in Chris Parmelee. They still need to find out what Trevor Plouffe can be. Can Brian Dozier play shortstop, or will he move to second base? Can Pedro Florimon hit at all? Can Chris Herrmann fill the same role for the Twins in the future that Ryan Doumit filled in 2012? Scott Diamond, Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson all need to get innings in 2013 to see if they factor into the 2014/2015 planning. Could lefty Pedro Hernandez be this year’s Scott Diamond? Getting Adrian Salcedo and Alex Wimmers healthy for 2014 is important. Does Eduardo Escobar have the tool set to be the Twins utility player for the next half-decade? Those can be answered starting in 2013 and into 2014.

    In 2014, we should hear about names such as BJ Hermsen, Logan Darnell and maybe Levi Michael. If uber-prospect Miguel Sano were to be exactly on the Joe Mauer path, we would see him in 2014, although 2015 makes more sense for him, Eddie Rosario, and some of those hard-throwing relievers drafted in 2012. Maybe we’ll even see Byron Buxton and J.O. Berrios. In 2016, Max Kepler, Niko Goodrum, Hudson Boyd, Travis Harrison and other names we aren’t even aware of will start appearing. That’s how you build a long-term contender. They have to hit (and get lucky) on their high draft picks, and they have to sign well in the international market as well.

    If you’re going to rebuild it, they need to do it right. That doesn’t have to mean completely blow it up. It does mean being smart in free agency and in making trades, keeping an eye on the future as much as the present. It is always remembering that player acquisition through the draft and through international signings ill always be crucial, and then it is necessary for those players to develop their potential.

    I’m a Twins fan, first and foremost. They could lose 100 games in 2013 and I will be right back and cheering for them again in 2014. I would like to understand the thought-process and the plan. That said, the front office shouldn’t be expected to say, “We’re trying to compete in 2015.” They should make some moves and hope they get a little bit lucky and give Twins fans some good baseball in 2013. If I’ve learned anything from the last two seasons, it’s much more fun watching a competitive team all regular season than watching a team that is out of contention by Memorial Day. That said, I also have to be realistic after two such poor seasons. I want hope for the future. I’d like to see improvement in 2013. I’d like to see a team that starts to really play well and come together as a young unit in 2014. And I want to see a team that is contending for the AL Central title in 2015, and 2016, and 2017, and, and… you get my point.
    This article was originally published in blog: Building for the Future started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 48 Comments
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      If the Twins plan on rebuilding through trades--start now! IMO there is no realistic scenario where the Twins are a playoff team in 2013. It would be far better to trade nearly all of the ML talent now, lose 120, and get serious about rebuilding. Consider how wretched DET was in 2003--and now they rule the division and likely are the favorite for the AL pennant in 2013. Their owner spent money--but they also drafted well, and they made shrewd trades. The Twins need not repeat the long drought of the '90s in order to rebuild for the next decade.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Succumbing to a 2 year rebuilding plan means wasting the last few years of Mauer's prime.
      Mauer is supposed to be a player to build around. Don't waste what's left of his prime rebuilding.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Great post, but I can't get on board with the approach if the front office refuses to aknowledge a rebuild is underway. They had the chance to trade vets for prospects this year and failed to drum up enough interest to do so despite rumors about Span, Morneau, Willingham and Perkins. All they managed to do was bungle the timing on the Liriano trade. Hard to trust that there is an actual gameplan right now, I'm riding the opinion that they're just winging it at this point until there is evidence to the contrary.
      So you really think TR, who has won multiple "executive of the year" awards is just sitting around waiting for things to happen and see if guys fall in his lap? Some of the posts here just don't make sense. I understand being impatient for the plan to unfold but people just have to wait a second before they cast judgment.

      Seth, you are a great blogger but the idea that signing torii should make the Twins fold up their tent and go home is just dumb. The truth is the Twins should have a similar goal whether they are building for next year or 2014 or 15 - add quality, longer term pitching. To think they are going to trade off all their assets for prospects and they will be all better in 2014 is tenuous at best since they have exactly one in house pitching prospect (Hermsonn) at AA or above.

      They could trade away all available assets, miss on their assessment and end up with nothing. Anybody remember the Stahoviak / Becker years? They need quality, young(er) pitching: this year, next year 2015 and beyond. If they don't solve that, Hicks, Arcia et al will not make a difference.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Great post, but I can't get on board with the approach if the front office refuses to aknowledge a rebuild is underway. They had the chance to trade vets for prospects this year and failed to drum up enough interest to do so despite rumors about Span, Morneau, Willingham and Perkins. All they managed to do was bungle the timing on the Liriano trade. Hard to trust that there is an actual gameplan right now, I'm riding the opinion that they're just winging it at this point until there is evidence to the contrary.
      So you really think TR, who has won multiple "executive of the year" awards is just sitting around waiting for things to happen and see if guys fall in his lap? Some of the posts here just don't make sense. I understand being impatient for the plan to unfold but people just have to wait a second before they cast judgment.

      Seth, you are a great blogger but the idea that signing torii should make the Twins fold up their tent and go home is just dumb. The truth is the Twins should have a similar goal whether they are building for next year or 2014 or 15 - add quality, longer term pitching. To think they are going to trade off all their assets for prospects and they will be all better in 2014 is tenuous at best since they have exactly one in house pitching prospect (Hermsonn) at AA or above.

      They could trade away all available assets, miss on their assessment and end up with nothing. Anybody remember the Stahoviak / Becker years? They need quality, young(er) pitching: this year, next year 2015 and beyond. If they don't solve that, Hicks, Arcia et al will not make a difference.
      +12
    1. TopGunn#22's Avatar
      TopGunn#22 -
      Great post, great comments. My 2-cents...I think trading Willingham to the Braves for young starting pitching (Hanson, Minor, Teheran, Delgado) and Span and a prospect to Tampa for Shields or Hellickson is a start. A big question to answer is what prospect in the package for Shields/Hellickson and what prospect with Willingham if we asked for 2 Braves pitchers instead of one. Still, you could conceivably have Sheilds/Hellickson at the top of your rotation with 1 or 2 of the Braves young starters and Scott Diamond in your rotation and you haven't spent a dime in free agency. Maybe you add an Edwin Jackson or Brandon McCarthy as a FA. Your starting pitching is MUCH better. Gibson is a possibility in June. If you kept Morneau that would put Parmalee in RF. You need a LF'er. Hicks is not even a consideration until at least July. But a team that could pitch like that could compete with a little luck in 2013 (and face it, most every team needs a little luck). It would certainly be set up to compete in 2014 with prospects like Arcia, Hicks, Gibson, Hendricks etc...a year older.

      SP Shields, Minor, E. Jackson, Diamond (Delgado/Gibson)

      CF Revere
      2B Carrol
      C Mauer
      1B Morneau
      DH Doumitt
      RF Parmalee
      3B Plouffe
      LF ??? (Arcia?)
      SS Florimon/Dozier
      The lineup isn't as strong but the pitching staff is built to keep you in games.
    1. Heinie Manush's Avatar
      Heinie Manush -
      At 1:23 Rosterman posted some information the leads me to the single most important reason why we are in the mess we're in. Look at the 2008-2010 drafts and you will see 10 pitchers drafted with in the first 100 or so picks. Of these 7 have washed out and two others have had arm surgery. Only Gibson seems a lock to be a solid or better major leaguer. Horrible drafting and training or extremely bad luck? I lean toward the former.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      This is a fine line. We need pitching, pitching and more pitching. Model has changed in the past 3 - 4 years as most clubs now are very reluctant to give up pitching prospects without being overpaid for them. None of the twins players available will bring more than a B prospect. Rays, Atlanta and Seattle along with Oakland have the excess pitching. I would prefer to deal with the Rays as we have 2 players they should be interested in (Span and Parmalee) and 8 possible starters to trade. Brave and Seattle pitchers are more risky unless Seattle will give up one of their top prospects (would probably require Willingham +) mlbtraderumors commented today that Seattle could be in on Hamilton(that would cost only money, but is an unlikely destination). Twins need to more at a faster pace or this market could pass them by. If TR decides to wait, I only hope it is the correct move and we are not looking at the dregs of the barrel.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      " Nothing in return for the other guys.
      !
      Is there a selective lack of knowledge here? Players traded for other pieces that begat other pieces.
      Players left by free agency. Jesse Crain had a career year in his last year. Signed elsewhere because he wanted to be a closer. The Twins got a draft pick.
      Baker left and the Twins got nothing. What possible scenario could have the Twins ever received compensation for Baker ?
      Yes Ryan did not always produce the most talent from the drafts yet he found talent off the other rosters. Examples in Ryan's late tenure before vacation moves were 2 minor league players became Luis Castillo and Buck Buchanan became Jason Barlett. Matt Gueirrier was a waiver pickup.The cupboard was not bare in 2007 when Ryan retired
    1. Cody Christie's Avatar
      Cody Christie -
      The Twins aren't going to be fighting for a playoff spot next season. It makes sense to build for the future.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How does signing players this year, to maybe contend stop them from building for the future? And, GMs are not in charge of the draft....they do trades and free agency. It isn't like if they cut payroll this year, they will use those dollars saved in a future year....
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by SeanS7921 View Post
      If you have a payroll of around 100 million dollars then you don't need to plan on contedning in 2015 you can contend now. Le Tigres who won only what 88 games this season signed Tori Hunter? Big wow. Tori Hunter got lucky on balls in play last year. His power is dimished and his Defense in RF isn't even average anymore. Maybe plus two wins for Le Tigres. The Twins could contend now with smart trades and a couple of free agent SP signings. You obviously want to be flexible for future years because what you have isn't a sure thing or even close to it. The Blue Jays went all in for this upcoming year. With the package they got which is close to 10 plus wins a year if healthy they went all in. The Twins don't need to do that but can contend in the AL Central with smart moves. Look at the Orioles, I'd argue the Twins are a better team with a couple of above average starters and luck thrown in.
      Torii Hunter was rated as the 3rd best defensive RF in baseball this year...so he's much better than average out there in RF. They are also getting VMart back. The also played up to their ability in the 2nd half with a .579 winning %. Their 1-5 right now is AJax, Hunter, Cabrera, Fielder and VMart....much better than ours. Their first three pitchers all had ERA under 3.75.

      They are way ahead of us.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      There's like a million good things to respond to in this thread, so I am not going to try. I believe in going big or . . . going big. The safer go big scenario involves not trading anybody and just adding through free agency (two pitchers and maybe a bat to trade--still think if in 2012 D-Lee or Vlad had been given a chance, they could have traded them for something). The other go big scenario is to trade a BUNCH of guys on the Twins (Span, Morneau, Willingham, Doumit, and either Parmelee or Revere) for 5+ B or better prospects who are ready or close to ready. I think the former situation can get the Twins above .500. The latter situation would likely not produce more than 70 wins, but at least there would be interest in seeing a roster of 22-25-year olds with Mauer and Plouffe and a few other guys for a year.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      I can assure you that for 2013 Torii Hunter > Chris Parmelee in RF (if that ridiculous scenario plays out), both defensively and offensively. The Tigers are WAY ahead of the Twins, unfortunately.
    1. Mr. Ed's Avatar
      Mr. Ed -
      2015

      Bleh, that's too far away. Get it together and get winning. Already wasted 2 years of everyone's time messing around.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      I love it how some can't see any middle ground on this. This isn't a completely blow it up situation nor is it a go for it in 2013 situation. The focus should be on building a team that is peaking in 2015. The rotation is a mess and while it might be possible to completely rebuild it in one offseason through 3+ FA or trades the more realistic path will take a couple of years. They should be able to sign a FA this winter and it's sounds pretty likely that they can match up on a trade with TB/SEA/ATL/CIN/other for a young pitcher/prospect. There's also a chance they pick Appel/Manaea/Stanek/other in the draft in June. I know that a couple of teams have turned it around in one offseason but realistically it's going to take a couple of years (hopefully).
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by SurroundedByTigers View Post
      I'm not in awe of the Tigers. The White Sox could have easily won the division but went into a tailspin the last two weeks of season. The Tigers have two great players, Verlander and Cabrera, and a bunch of solid players surrounding them. Detroit is one bad hop (Cabrera taking one off the shins at 3B), and a sore shoulder (Verlander has logged a tremendous number of innings past 3 seasons) from being a .500 team with a bloated payrool. Twins need to upgrade pitching staff, period, get a little more production on offense, and they can make the division race interesting again.
      If it turns out that the cornerstone of Terry Ryan's plan to have the Twins contend in 2013 involves crossing his fingers and hoping that two guys who NEVER get hurt...get hurt, well, then I would hope that even the loyal-to-the-point-of-idiocy Pohlads would show him the door, and punch him in the arm really, really hard on the way out.

      And I'm a little hazy on your definition of "solid" players. To me that means guys who are average or a little better. Either the word has a vastly different meaning to you, or you're unaware of the fact that Fielder, Jackson, Avila, Scherzer, and Fister are All-Star caliber players. And Hunter and Martinez may not be All Stars anymore, but they're clearly still well above average. Current Twins staff 'ace' Scott Diamond would have to battle for the 5th spot in a Sanchez-less Tigers rotation, or toss long relief if they bring Anibal back. They left a reliever (Villarreal) off their postseason roster who could probably beat out Burton for the setup role if he were a Twin.

      It's likely that the Twins will add a couple of starting pitchers in the offseason, and maybe a warm body in the middle infield or bullpen. They'll probably be better next year than they were this year or last. But if you seriously think that the Twins will contend for the division title by adding Joe Blanton, Jeremy Guthrie, and a big bag of Verlander and Cabrera voodoo dolls...well, good luck with that.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Twinkies contracted there is no future!!
    1. jtrinaldi's Avatar
      jtrinaldi -
      the Twins are doing what they can to get by until 2015 and 2016.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Top Gun View Post
      The future is now! Not in 2015 or the year 2525.
      If man is still alive. If woman can survive.

    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      I agree on the middle ground, which I suspect is Ryan's position. We need to acquire several SP, but only ones who have the potential to be around in 2015. My hope is they sign Sanchez (only 28 years old) and trade for two young pitchers (Minor, Delgado, Hellickson, Paxton...). Those guys would make us better next year and get some experience for a run by 2015, maybe even 2014. The Twins should avoid any SP past his early thirties. I was pushing for Shields, but now I only think it makes sense if he will sign an extension. I don't want to see Willingham, Span or Morneau leave, but at least we have potential replacements for them. Without pitching we are just spinning our wheels towards another 60-70 win season.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.